Hometown: Margaret River, Western Australia
Weight: 176 lbs.
Sponsors: Salomon, S-Core
Picture this. You’re nineteen years old. After twelve years of grinding through school, compounded by an extra two years of studying marine tourism at the university, you suddenly decide to throw everything you know in the thunderbox to take a chance on the dream life of pro surfing. You score a sponsor straight-up ’cause you’ve got promise—a Euro-based surfboard company buys your first ticket to Hawai’i. At first you struggle to get waves ’cause the scene is so heavy. Locals send you in twice. This isn’t how it’s supposed to be, is it? The dream is turning sour. Then one day you rock up to Waimea Bay shorebreak, a wave you watched on video as a grom with your brothers, always wondering whether you’d have the balls to take it on. Damn, can’t get a wave anywhere else, what the hell? You paddle out. A beast appears. You tuck in your figs, make that drop, and pull in to the biggest, meanest backside pit of your life. You wash up on the beach smiling. You arrive home enriched. Then the phone rings. It’s your sponsor. “Good news,” they say. “Your first surf shot ever is on the cover of the country’s highest-selling magazine, Tracks, at maxing Waimea Bay shorey!” Are you shocked? Are you a star? Are you wetting your pants with excitement? No. You’re Tom Innes. Son of a three-time Olympic gold medalist who, at one point, held every freestyle swimming record in the world. You are a failed marine tourism manager, but a young man well on the way to realizing your dreams.—Blako